Categories: Editorials

Why the April 2 People’s Tribunal is timely

The opening session of the “People’s Tribunal on Police Violence and Structural Racism” scheduled for April 2 at the National Black Theatre in Harlem, N.Y., could not have come at a better time.

A project of the Peoples Power Assemblies, the tribunal is being organized because “The cases of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Ramarley Graham, Amadou Diallo and countless others have shown that the legal system is incapable of delivering justice in cases of police brutality. The system has failed the people, so the people will hold their own court. We must put the police on trial and let the people judge!” (Peoples Power Assemblies, Facebook)

The Facebook page continues: “Over the coming weeks and months, at community hearings across the country, the People’s Tribunal on Police Violence and Structural Racism will hear testimony from the victims of police violence and their families, along with the insight of activists engaged in the struggle. Testimony will cover the full range of police offenses, from everyday harassment to summary executions.

“Related issues, including but not limited to mass incarceration, the militarization of schools, the War on Drugs and domestic violence will also be addressed in order to illustrate the connection between police brutality and the larger system of state violence and structural racism. Later this year the Tribunal will hold a final session to present its findings, conclusions, and recommendations.”

Since the police murders of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice and countless other Black people including women, there has been an ever-growing increase in police terror. This includes the vicious beatings of Martese Johnson, a student at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, and 57-year-old Floyd Dent, a United Auto Worker member in Inkster, Mich. Both of these attacks were captured on videotape.

But police terror is just one aspect of the structural racism based on white supremacy that helps to sustain the profit-driven capitalist system.  Consider the controversial video of white members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity from Oklahoma University singing a song riddled with the racist “N” word and calling for the lynching of African Americans.  There is also the recent lynching of a Black riverboat worker, Otis Byrd, in Port Gibson, Miss., which has gotten very little national attention.

In a March 4 Workers World newspaper article, “Oscars and mass incarceration show why BLACK LIVES MATTER,” Monica Moorehead wrote, “African Americans make up an estimated 13.6 percent of the U.S. population, but in 2010, Black men alone constituted 40.2 percent of prisoners, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.”

The article continues, “Here is a breakdown of these 2010 percentages: Black men were incarcerated at a rate of 3,074 per 100,000 residents; Latinos at 1,258 per 100,000; and white men at 459 per 100,000. (Population Reference Bureau, Aug. 2012) The Bureau of Justice Statistics states that one out of three young Black men will go to prison in their lifetime.”

These staggering statistics and heinous examples of killings and murders are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of unearthing the divide-and-conquer capitalist system that thrives on institutionalized racism. People of color, especially youth and young workers, in disproportionate numbers, along with a growing number of white youth, increasingly have no future as the global capitalist crisis deepens. Youth need decent jobs at union-scale wages, not police and state terror.

The April 2 meeting will help lay the basis for indicting the entire capitalist system, with a strong demand to disarm the police.

Go to on April 2 tribunal.


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